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Architecture, Design Wags Tails in NC

Friday, November 9, 2012

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Forget bones, dogs dig architecture, and faux finishing.

Or, at least, so say the architects and building professionals who are taking part in the first Bow-Wowhaus project in Asheville, NC.

Ceiling of a dog house
Photos: AIA Asheville

This fresco mural appears on the ceiling of one of the pooch palaces designed for the Bow-Wowhaus project.

The project involves designing and building 10 one-of-a-kind doggy digs to be auctioned off Saturday (Nov. 10) at a gala to benefit local charities. Asheville’s chapter of the American Institute of Architects organized the project.

Stylish Pooch Pads

“The dog houses are each so different and unique,” said Mary Fierle, executive assistant, AIA Asheville. “There is a home appropriate for a teacup Chihuahua to a Rhodesian Ridgeback and every kind of mutt in between!”

The participating architects collaborated with businesses and craftsmen, including carpenters, interior designers, a metal worker, faux finisher, technology expert, and a jewelry designer, Fierle said.

Lost dog cafe

An old surfboard is an eye-catching design element for the "Lost Dog Cafe."

Building materials used in the dog houses include recycled cherry slats, stucco, MDF, Plexiglas, beer cans, and an old surfboard. Some of the houses have been designed for indoor use; others are made for the yard.

A Wright Idea

AIA Asheville President Thad Rhoden said that the idea for the project had been spurred by the documentary film Romanza: The California Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, by Michael Miner.

The film, which will be screened at the gala, traces homes throughout California, including the smallest of Wrights’ designs: a dog house for Eddie Berger.

On June 19, 1956, that 12-year-old son of a client wrote to Wright, “I would appreciate it if you would design me a dog house, which would be easy to build, but would go with our house.”

“[My dog] is two and a half feet high and three feet long,” the letter said. “The reasons I would like this dog house is for the winters mainly.” He said he could pay for the design with his paper route money.

“I was probably his youngest client and poorest client,” said Berger, now 68. Berger rebuilt the dog house with his brother, using the original plans. The construction will be displayed at the Bow-Wowhaus event.

More information about the film and Berger’s doghouse may be found here.

Tail-Wagging Process

For some architects, the process of designing and building the dog house provided an opportunity to think and work outside their normal “building box,” the computer. Architects today spend most of their time in front of a computer screens clicking keys to express designs, AIA Asheville said.

For architect Terry Meek, AIA, the project provided a change of pace. “Our dog house was built entirely with hand tools—circular saw, scroll saw, a hammer and a screwdriver,” said Meek.

Others said the project had brought back fond childhood memories.

“Many years ago, there were a couple of events that turned my interest to architecture,” said Jes Stafford, AIA. “Building Lincoln’s cabin out of Lincoln Logs was one. Building a dog house with my father was the other. It really sparked an interest in taking an idea, designing and making a real thing out of it. So this is rather personal and fitting.”

One Beer-Crushing Design

Asheville has been voted “Beer City USA” for the past couple of years and has an ever-growing number of microbreweries, according to AIA Asheville.

Beer can roof

A roof coated in beer cans and a cork flooring are featured in this doggy den.

Architect Nicole Szlatenyi, Assoc. AIA, partnered with Square Peg Construction and Hops and Vine specialty beverages to capitalize on the craze by roofing their dog house with crushed beer-can shingles—local beer cans, of course. 

In addition, her team made use of other bar by-products, including wine bottles, corks and a whiskey barrel. Szlatenyi’s dog house is called, “The Hangover.”

Charities Benefit

Proceeds from the event will benefit the no-kill shelter Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and the Asheville Art Museum. 

AIA Asheville is one of 300 chapters of the American Institute of Architects.

More information: www.aiaasheville.org.


Tagged categories: American Institute of Architects; Architecture; Building design; Color; Design; Faux finishes

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